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March 15, 2022 36 mins

We're talking Running Backs in this episode of the Tape Heads: Draft Season podcast. Hosts Bob Wischusen and Greg Cosell explore what the RB position is right now in the NFL and what's expected from the College prospects. Bob wonders about the value of a RB and how today's player is asked to be far more versatile on the field. Even a good running back is facing a shorter shelf life in the NFL and most teams are contemplating value by a player's second contract with the team. Turning to the players, we look at Greg's evaluations of: Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker, Isaiah Spiller, James Cook, Tyler Allgeier, Rachaad White, Snoop Conner, Jerome Ford, Brian Robinson Jr., Kyren Williams, Dameon Pierce, and Zamir White.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to a brand new week of Tapeds Draft season.
Bobo schusan longtime radio voice of the New York Jets
and also a college football broadcaster for years and years
and years and years at ESPN, so many years to count.
Greg co cell for even longer than that, for the
better part of four decades, has been breaking down the
film the All twenty two for NFL films, not only

(00:25):
breaking down NFL matchups every week, but also the college
players to get you set for the draft. And we
like to crawl behind the game, inside the xs and
os on tap Heeds and bring you a different kind
of podcast to get you set for the draft than
maybe you'll hear elsewhere. This is not the you know,
the the mock draft podcast. This is more of a
wide angle lens and I think a realistic look, more

(00:46):
realistic look at the way NFL teams actually prepare for
the draft as opposed to the mock draft to see
all the time on TV. So, you know, Greg, we've
done some wide receiver work. We have done a lot
of quarterback work. Later this week we're gonna dive back
into the quarterbacks in our episode that will drop on Thursday.
Rich Gangerello, who is the UH now current offensive coordinator

(01:07):
at Kentucky, but a twenty year college and pro coach,
most recently the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco forty Niners.
He'll join us on Thursday, and we're gonna break the
quarterbacks down. But I think this week we are planning
on jumping into the position that I think is the
most interesting, debatable, you know, at times polarizing position when

(01:32):
it comes to not only evaluating guys once they're in
the NFL and what it should pay them and how
much of a commitment you should make to them, but
where you should draft them coming out of college, and
that's running back. Like growing up, I mean, we the
running back was the glamor position Earl Campbell and Walter
Payton and Tony Dorset, and entire offenses were just built

(01:53):
around those guys. That's not the case anymore. Outside of
Derrick Henry, I don't know that there's an offense in
the NFL that is purely built around the running back.
So how hard is it from a draft standpoint to
properly value the running back When you see these stars
in college and you want to project them to the NFL. Well,
I don't think, Bob, it's as much about the traits

(02:16):
of backs. There's good backs every year, and there's good
backs in this draft. I think it's really a thirty
thousand foot macro question. What kind of resources do you
allocate to the position? That's number one? Number two becomes
how do you structure an offense in today's NFL? So

(02:37):
that determines what the value of a back is to you?
You know, obviously, look at a team like the San
Francisco forty Niners, David, they start with the run game
as a foundation. Now they've shown, just Kyle Shanahan has shown,
just as his dad, Mike Shanahan showed that it wasn't
specific to one back, but it was specific to a system.

(02:59):
So they've had success with a lot of different running backs.
This past year, they had success with Elijah Mitchell, who
was a sixth round pick out of Louisiana. So they
didn't allocate a lot of resources to the position, but
yet they were able to run the ball exceptionally well
because they believe in the run game as a foundation,
which raises the next question, should the run game be

(03:22):
a foundation in today's NFL? When all coaches talk about
is explosive plays and presentage wise, you're far more likely
to get explosive plays in the past game than in
the run game. The next question is every game you
pretty much have to run the ball at some point
in the game. So if you can't do that often

(03:45):
you can lose games because of an inability to run
the ball. And I don't want to put any blame
on the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff, but obviously in the
Super Bowl they continue to throw the ball with a
lead in the third and fourth quarter, and they were
six quarterback sacks in the second half of that game,
and at some point many might have thought that, hey,

(04:06):
now is the time, let's run the ball. And they
did not have a bad running game at all. But
the running game is the kind of thing that people
say you don't need until you need it, And you
can't just snap your fingers. It's not a water faucet
and say, Okay, now we're gonna run the ball. That's
something that has to be practiced. I've had conversations with

(04:27):
a lot of coaches who will actually say that teaching
and coaching the run game with all the detail and
nuance that is involved can sometimes be tougher than teaching
the past game. So unless you spend time in practice
with the run game, then it doesn't just happen when
you need it in given games. And of course this
brings us then back to when do you draft running backs?

(04:50):
Because there are good backs in this draft. There's so
many branches to this tree, right, Like you mentioned the
San Francisco forty. Yeah. Um, Like they took a big, powerful,
borderline tight end sized wide receiver in Deebo Samuel and
they're like, you know what, We'll give you the ball
out of the backfield four or five six times a game.
At times, we'll make you a pseudo running back and

(05:10):
line you up all over the field. Cor Darryl Patterson
is another player that all of a sudden he's wearing
you know, a number that begins with eight, and he's
in the backfield sometimes just taking a standard out of
the shotgun running back play. Um. Also, I think a
lot of teams now look at the screen game. Um

(05:31):
just you know, even going five wide and having their
running back as a part of an empty set. Let's
just throw him a little quick slant. That's almost a
pseudo running game now in the NFL, right, just a
high percentage passed to a running back, which means when
you're evaluating all of these guys for any NFL offense,
you have to wonder how well they can catch. Like

(05:53):
Earl Campbell was never lining up in the slot, Christian
Nakoya was never running a slant right like. It's just
just not what was done with running backs back in
the day. So all of that, I would assume has
to be a part of the evaluation process. How much
do we need a running back? How many guys on
our team that don't you don't even necessarily think of

(06:13):
as being a running back can act in that role?
Does our offense ask a running back to possibly catch
the ball six seven, eight times a game? I mean,
and obviously, if you're a fantasy football player, the running
backs to catch the ball the most. You know, Christian McCaffrey,
those are the guys that every fantasy football because Christian
McCaffrey catches it sometimes as much as he runs it.

(06:36):
So when you're evaluating all of these college players, you
know how big of a how many different slices are there?
Now to the pie chart for an NFL evaluation for
a running backs opposed to way back in the day
where it was just can the guy run off tackle
left or off tackle right? And once in a while
break want and go the distance. Yeah, And you make
a great point. There's so many different elements and there's

(06:57):
not one correct answer. I know a lot of people
I believe that the run game is not really that
relevant that it's it's the NFL is about the passing game,
and I don't think anybody would argue that as a
general statement that you have to be able to throw
the ball, uh, in order to to play good offensive
football week to week and to get to wherever it

(07:17):
is you want to go. But we've also seen the
San Francisco forty nine ers two years three years ago
get to the Super Bowl and lose in a in
a game they probably should have won. This year get
to the NFC Championship Game, um and in a game
they probably should have won as well. So there's many
ways to play offensive football, and there's many ways to
create explosive plays in the past game. But I will

(07:40):
say this, I think that at some point in the
NFL a couple of points. Number one, you do have
to run the ball, But number two, your past game
can't work solely off your run game. One thing I
was fortunate enough to learn from Bill Walsh, because I
was very fortunate and grateful to spend a good amount
of time with him years ago, is that your running

(08:00):
game and your passing game must in any given game
be able to work independently from one another if they're
dependent on one another for their success. In other words,
the only way your pass game can really be effective
is working off run game principles. You're going to get
to games where you need to drop back pass game
and you're going to struggle. Interesting, Yeah, you're right, I

(08:22):
mean being and also it allows you to be one
dimensional when it's necessary and still win. Correct. We always
talk about, you know, if you can make a team
one dimensional, that's the best way to beat them. That's
a really interesting way to look at it. I think
something else that really has to enter into the minds
of evaluators but also how they weigh the running backs
and where they want to put them on the board

(08:42):
is it's a very unique position in terms of lifespan,
in terms of how much money you have to pay
one of these guys once he gets if he's a
first round pick and he gets to his fourth and
fifth year, right, Like, no one ever could have imagined,
say Kwon Barkley being anything other than a star and
out just because he has been on a bad team

(09:03):
and he's been banged up the second pick in the draft.
There's a legit debate as to whether or not by
the time he gets to year five the Giants should
pay him, and and how many more years past year
five will even have I've actually said in the past,
I think the NFL Players Association should be obviously the
union that represents the players. I think there should be

(09:23):
an NFL running Backs Association. There should there should be
a separate collective bargaining agreement for running backs where they
should become free agents after year three, right, because all
these other positions you could play six, seven, ten, twelve, fifteen.
I mean, Tom Brady might play thirty years in the
NFL by the time he finally officially retires. These running backs, man,
they get to their second contract and already teams are like,

(09:48):
I just don't know, Like I don't know if we
want to give this guy much of a financial commitment,
you'll get the odds Zeke Elliott that really will break
the bank. But a lot of these guys have a
lot of tread off the tire by the time they
get five and six years into the league, even if
they're really good. So you know the fact that teams
can find running backs in the third and fourth round,
the fact that there's you know, injury questions with these guys.

(10:09):
They get hit in a way that other positions don't
get hit. They're smaller and getting hit. I mean all
of those things, Like how do NFL teams weigh all
of that when they're thinking about where the draft. One well,
one quick point is and I think there'll be a
litmus test team this year in the NFL that will
really tell us a lot. And that's the Pittsburgh Steelers
who just signed Mitchell Trubisky is their quarterback. And we

(10:31):
all know what kind of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is. He
needs a run game to be valuable and effective. And
they have a back in Nigie Harris who's two thirty
pounds looks like a Donas carry the ball over three
hundred times as a rookie um struggle to average four
yards to carry. You can you can debate why that's
the case, but is Nigie Harris in this particular offense

(10:54):
with a quarterback that needs a run game and that
you don't want to ask him to drop back times
the game by choice? Where will Nigi Harris be in
a year or two, no matter how big and strong
and powerful he is? How many years can have back
carry three plus times in today's NFL? Yeah, you're right.
And you know, when you think about the guys in

(11:15):
this draft as well, how many guys fit that body
type or how many of the guys that are in
this current crop of running backs are guys that you
might think of us what's become more the prototypical NFL
running back? Because when we come back, we're gonna talk players.
We're gonna talk who Greg has seen, what the tape says.
Who are the guys that Gregg values a bit more
in this draft than maybe you're seeing elsewhere. Find that

(11:37):
out next when we come back tape Heads Draft season.
We are back on tape Heads Draft season, Bobo shoosing
Greg Cosll and we're gonna get right now to where
Gregg co Sell eats, and that is breaking down these players.
So we're doing running backs, Greg, Let's start to get
to each guy kind of one by one, give us
a little thumbnail sketch starting with Bruce Hall of Iowa State. Yeah,

(12:00):
and and for people that know me, Bob, I'm not
a big list guy because I think so many players
are different and it's hard to do that. But I
would say that briefs. Hall to me, if I had
to make a list, would be my number one running
back in this draft class. I think he's the total package. Um.
I think because he's carried the ball a lot, he
has extensive experience in both zone and gap scheme concepts.

(12:23):
I think he's got a high level combination of patience
and decisiveness. He's very smooth, he's fluid. He's got a
gliding feel to his running. There's a sense of pace
and tempo to him, as if he has an innate
feel for both his blocking schemes and for the defensive flow.
Because one thing people have to remember, you know, everybody

(12:44):
talks on defense about gaps, but offensive backs, running backs
have to understand gaps what they are before the snap,
they change after the snap. I think Hall has a
very good feel for gap fluidity, and he rarely ever
looked hurried. He ran with a rhythmic feel that at
times almost made an appeal appear that it was choreographed.

(13:06):
And another key fact to his game. He can catch
the ball well, and I think that he can be
a three down back in the NFL with his soft
hands run after catch. I think you can see him
running a more multiple route tree in the NFL as well.
You can see him running angle routes, wheel routes, even
what we call eight seam where he's all set in
the backfield and runs a seam route. So, to me,

(13:28):
Bruce Hall is the top back in this class, first
round pick. And if in the first round, what do
you think, I mean, where where would you kind of
put them generally speaking on a board? Um, I mean
I think if you're making a draft board and I
haven't seen every player, so you know, that's hard for
me to answer. Um, I think he'd probably be a

(13:50):
top thirty two player in this draft. Whether that means
that he gets drafted in the first round. Uh, that's
that larger discussion that we just had about the value
of BacT and that becomes team specific, scheme specific, how
you see him in the context of all of those things. So, uh,

(14:10):
is he one of the thirty two best players? I
would argue, yes, that by no means suggests that he
will be a first round draft choice. Yeah, it just
shows how the game is evolved in the position is evolved, right,
because this isn't even thought to be a quarterback rich
quarterback deep draft, which would normally allow the other positions
to bump up in value, and yet the top rated

(14:32):
running back potentially in this draft a question mark as
to whether or not he's going to go in the
first round, and even how high in the second round.
So how about Michigan State's uh Kenny Kenneth Walker. I mean,
he was a guy that kind of burst onto the
scene late in the year. Not someone that was in
the Heisman conversation to start off the season, but that
was very much in the Heisman conversation at the end

(14:52):
of the season. A really fun guy to watch. I
don't know if you saw him much this year. Um,
he's compact, he's loaded the ground, He's piston like feet
that seemingly never stop moving. He's got outstanding lateral quickness
and suddenness. He makes sharp, decisive cuts. He's got really
good contact balance. Um, he's very competitive, He's tenacious as

(15:15):
a runner. He will lower his pads and he will
attack defenders, and he will finish runs with anger. And
there's a run to daylight feel to the to the
way he he runs. I mean, it's almost as if
he's a bit of a jazz musician, Bob. He's looking
for space, He's looking for that next notes as it were.
You know, he certainly can stay on track, but he

(15:36):
definitely is looking to find daylight. He's got a free
flowing sense of of running. Um. He's very improvisational. He
can work off script um. The big question with him,
and again it comes back to the same point about
the value of bacts is what can he give you
in the passing game. And I think right now that's

(15:57):
an open question. The tape does not see just that
he can be a a factor at at as a
receiver at the next level. Maybe he can. That's what
pro days are for, that's what individual workouts are for.
But the tape doesn't show that. Another guy that is
probably more of what is now becoming the prototypical NFL

(16:18):
running back Isaiah Spiller from Texas A and m right,
smaller guy, but certainly can catch and that system had
to catch the ball. So what do you think about Spiller. YEA,
Spiller is actually a a almost in some ways a
little old school because he is big and he's powerful, um,
and he runs really hard inside. Um he's got If

(16:40):
you're thinking old school, I mean you would talked earlier
about facts, you know, twenty thirty years ago, like the
George Rodgers types, Orge Drivers being a first round draft
choice what I think nten eighty giver take coming out
of South Carolina. I mean Spiller is in some ways
like that. He's six feet, he's two hundred seventeen pounds,
he has a fee Tacher foundation, volume, back, traits profile,

(17:04):
He's got the size, he's got a compact build, he's
got patience, he's got vision, he's got short area burst,
he has enough lateral quickness, and he works really effectively
in confined space, which is absolutely critical in the NFL.
He's got natural power, he's got contact balance, he's physical,
he can finish runs. He's an attitude runner. He's that

(17:26):
that foundation type back that you feel good if you
want to start your offense this way giving him the ball,
you know, seventeen to twenty two times a game. So
it returns to our basic question, how many teams want
to play offense that way in today's NFL because Isaiah
Spiller can fill that role. James Cook from Georgia. Obviously

(17:48):
it's in the gene pool, right. I mean, you know
when if you grow up eating at the same table
as Dalvin, then obviously there's something about whatever they were
feeding those guys to turn them into NFL running back.
So how about James Cook. James Cook to me is
in some ways what the NFL has become. You know,
people listening to this, I don't want them to fall
off their their seat if they're sitting down, because I'm

(18:10):
going to compare him to someone He's not quite the
same level of player, and he's much smaller, but he
can be used the same way in the NFL, and
that's Alvin Kamara. I mean, Camara is a much bigger man,
and he's kind of evolved into a little bit of
a feature back. But in many ways, James Cook brings
a similar running receiving profile to an offense. Just ask

(18:33):
Nick Saban. Cook lined up split out against Alabama and
then these past years and made big plays called a
long touchdown split out two years ago. He is a
really really good receiver and you can use him offset
in the backfield as a receiver, you can detach him
from the formation. Um. He lacks the size to be

(18:53):
a volume runner, but he possesses almost all of the
skills to be a really productive runner. In fact, he
runs very much like his older brother Dalvin Cook. He
looks the same, He's just a smaller man. But I
think James Cook is one of those players that I
would not surprise me to see him jump some other
backs who we might think have better overall traits because

(19:17):
they're bigger. But he fits today's NFL if you're looking
for that back that can both run the ball as
an eye back but also be a receiver split from
the formation, which more and more teams do now in
the NFL. Tyler Algier from b y U, what do
you think about him? Yeah, He's He's a really interesting back.

(19:37):
To me, I think he's more of the quote unquote
feature back type, and I'm very curious to see if
teams see him that way, because he does have a
lot of really good traits and he's the kind of
guy that grew on me the more I watched him.
He's two four pounds, Um, he's got a subtle nuanced

(19:58):
feel for the zone run team. He predominantly ran the
zone run game at b y U. He's patient, he's disciplined,
he's efficient, he's got good vision. Um, he's got an
intuitive feel for the pace and tempo of runs. He
stays on his path, he he presses the whole, he
leverages defenders. He's a really good back. Um. He kind

(20:22):
of reminded me of two backs that I that I watched,
and neither one well one of them did have a
featureback success early in his career, Jordan Howard. I kind
of thought of Jordan Howard watching Tyler als year. And
the other back that came to mind was Alexander Madison,
who's the backup to Dalvin Cook. And he came out
of Boise State and the Vikings drafted him in the

(20:43):
third round. And I kind of see Algier that way.
I don't believe he'll end up being a feature back
in the league, but he will play in the league
for sure. And one of them got to talk about
in this segment, Arizona States for shod White. Ah. So
he's another guy that I think if he becomes an
excellent and NFL player because he has really good receiving traits,

(21:03):
and he's big two, he's over six ft, he's two
d fourteen pounds UM. He needs working past protection, but
he's an excellent receiver, Bob, and he's a He's a
good runner as well, but I think his receiving ability
will separate him. He's got the versatility to detach from
the formation. He has excellent hands. He can be featured

(21:24):
on multiple route concepts, including intermedia and vertical routes, and
that's really important. So White, to me, could be another
one of those backs that moves up in the draft
because of the receiving element to his game. He's really
good at it, and you know he's got wide receiver
traits in many ways. So Cook and White, James Cooking

(21:46):
a shot, White are the two guys are the ones
we've mentioned up to this point that are really strong receivers,
and I think that that could really impact where they
get drafted. Yeah, and today's NFL, the ability for running
back to catch the ball has never been more important,
and you see that in how teams put their offenses together.
Want you to send us your thoughts on these players.

(22:06):
A lot of information in a short period of time.
If you think Greg's done with the running backs, Think again,
he's just getting started. We're gonna keep it coming with
another group of running back prospects. See what the tape says,
and then we'll take kind of before we say goodbye
for this episode, a wide angle look at how deep
and talented this class is and if your team is
a running back needy team, where you might find value.

(22:28):
All of that is coming up on tapeds Draft Season.
Back on this running backs edition of tapeds Draft Season,
Bobo Shoes and Greg Costell running through a lot of
the top running back prospects and the guys that Greg
thinks might be the most interesting fit for NFL teams.
And you know there's an Alabama transfer that played at Cincinnati.

(22:51):
I had their games a couple of times this year,
and their offense looked because there was times where he
was banged up, and as good as the quarterback was,
as good as their receivers were, their offense just look
different when Jerome Ford was healthy and on the field. Greg,
what do you think about Jerome Ford from Cincinnati. Yeah,

(23:11):
he's a player that to be honest with you, I
knew he was an Alabama transfer, but I didn't know
much about him the year prior, in two thousand and twenty,
he was not really a feature back for them, so
he was somewhat virgin territory for me. Bob and I
really liked his tape. Um. I think he's got a
really good mix of size and traits. I mean, he's

(23:31):
compactly built. He's got a sturdy frame. Um, he's got
natural quickness and burst. He's got natural power. He's got
a really strong lower half. He can run through contact,
he can finish runs. I thought he's a very disciplined runner,
doesn't waste any emotion, and he can take it to
the house. I mean he can re accelerate, he can
get to the second level cleanly. Um, he's got very

(23:54):
tight footwork, very compact in the way he runs, and
you know we see that. Uh. While he was not
featured in their passing game, I think that's there. He
didn't make some catches on wheel routes, really good sign.
But this kid has explosive vertical ability. Um, plays fast
and his physical I really like Jerome Ford transitioning to

(24:18):
the NFL. Let's go to Alabama then, I mean that
was where Jerome Ford once was, but that's where Brian
Robinson most recently was so, how about Brian Robinson? Yeah,
he got his chance this year, and I actually watched
all his runs from twenty as well, and a good
number from one. Um. He's an urgent, determined, physical, competitive
downhill runner. He runs with velocity, he runs with power,

(24:41):
he gains hard yards, but there's also kind of a
looseness to his running. His feet are kind of light
and active. You wouldn't say he's purely shifty and elusive.
Maybe he's a little straight line ish, but there were
runs in which he did feature lateral quickness and agility.
He has sort of that stop and start re acceleration ability. UM.

(25:02):
I came away from his tape this year seeing a
kind of a looser hipped runner with more efficient change
of direction, a more fluid feel. I kind of like
him as an NFL back. He has feature back size
and traits. He's two pounds he doesn't really look at
when you watch him, but he's almost six to Bob

(25:22):
and that's really really good size. Alright. Karen Williams notre Dame. Yeah,
Kiren Williams is a guy that there's really only in
my view, two ways to see him. He's got good traits.
He's a very refined runner. He's a professional runner. He's
patient yet decisive. UM he knows how to run. He's

(25:45):
not explosive. He doesn't have a lot of juice. So
to me, Kirra and Williams, because he's an excellent receiver
and he ran multiple route concepts and he was split
from the formation. I could see him in two ways.
He could go to a team where the running back
does not carry a ton and be a quote unquote
number one back in the way that Austin Ekeler is

(26:06):
a number one back for the Chargers. He's not going
to carry two hundred fifty two hundred seventy times. Or
I could see him as a James White type back
the way James White is used with the New England Patriots,
where he's used primarily as a receiver once in a
while carrying the ball. Um. Don't forget James White when
he was in college was a one thousand yard Russia

(26:28):
at Wisconsin. So White then made that transition in the
NFL to a back because he's a really good receiver
and a really good blocker. I think Kirraen Williams probably
falls more into that category. Damie appears from Florida. He's
an interesting player, Yeah, because Damian Piercy. He's a professional
runner when it comes to approach and execution. I mean,

(26:51):
I don't think despite waiting two eighteen pounds, my guess
is he'll be seen more as a committee back or
a number two back. He doesn't have a ton of
lateral agility and quickness, and he doesn't have a ton
of burst, but he's compact, he's loaded the ground. He's
a very measured, methodical, discipline runner. He's got what we

(27:13):
call sustaining traits. He's got an innate understanding of defensive fronts.
I mentioned earlier gap fluidity as a great feel for that.
He also has a natural feel for the demanded pace
and tempo of specific runs. He's got great play strength
and contact balance. I mean, this kid fourth through tackles

(27:33):
and he did not go down easy. He got hard yards.
Those are two traits that are always in demand in
the NFL. UM he's an attitude runner, and every coach
and every team likes attitude runners. Um. There's much more
to get from Pierces to the receiver as well, and
that will enhance his value as you project and transition

(27:54):
him to the league. He's super intriguing to me, Bob,
because just stylistically the way he runs, he could be
seen as a guy that could get a hundred seventy carries.
It would not surprise me if some teams see him
that way. Alright, we we've touched on a lot of guys.
We even back in the previous segments said Breece Hall
is probably the best overall prospect in this class, and

(28:17):
yet you don't think that he is a slam dunk
first rounder, which speaks also to how the NFL has
changed the value that is put on running backs. But
just kind of wide angle lens this class as a whole.
If my team needs a running back, how talented and
deep do you think this class is as a whole?
Am I gonna get a good player on my team

(28:38):
if I take one of these guys, even as high
as the second round. Absolutely, I think it's a pretty
deep class. I think it just speaks to what we've
been saying that teams don't see the running back position
as needing to allocate major capital, either draft capital or
even you know, trade capital or free agent capital. But

(28:58):
I think there's a lot of good running backs In
this draft, a lot of running backs will be talking
about and again it comes back to our initial premise,
what is the value of the running back in today's NFL?
Can't do Teams feel that, Hey, if they're not going
to be a run first team, so they look at
Damian Pierce, who may well be available in the third round.

(29:20):
And I don't know. I'm That's one thing I'm not
good at, Bob, and I'll be the first to admit it.
I'm not good at knowing where guys are going to
get drafted. Um, but you know, can they look at
someone like Damian Pierce and say, hey, we can get
this guy in you know, the third round and we'll
be fine. I mean, look at New England. The New
England Patriots this year were run first football team. Okay,

(29:40):
who were there? Backs? Damian Harris a third round pick
out of Alabama a few years ago, and reminders Stevenson,
I believe, a fourth round pick out of Oklahoma this year.
So there's a template in place for a lot of
teams in the league where they want to run the
ball like New England did with a rookie quarterback, and
they ran it really effectively. Think they were in the

(30:00):
top ten in the league in both attempts and yards,
and yet they did not have a first or second
round pick as one of their backs. So there's a
lot of templates in place. We've mentioned the forty nine ers.
You know, last year everybody mentioned Jacksonville with James Robinson
gaining a thousand yards as if I'm not mistaken, was
a free agent. Um, So there's there's profiles in place

(30:25):
of teams that have not drafted backs high and yet
has still managed to have quality, consistent run games on
a week to week basis. Then, with that being said,
if you were running an NFL draft room, right, if
you were a general manager and you it was your
job to make these decisions, would you have I don't

(30:45):
want to say a blanket rule, but at the very
least like a general policy for your scouts. Because we're
not drafting or running back before the third round. It
just doesn't make sense. If you think there is a
transform should old guy out there that maybe folks are
undervaluing that is worthy of a second round pick, bring

(31:06):
him to me and we'll certainly talk it over. I'm
gonna be as open mind. It is an about I
mean you know, you don't close the door to anything,
but just as a general rule, I don't want to
talk running back until the third or fourth round. Is
it even necessary or is there a guy maybe in
this class that might violate that principle that you think
is worthy of a second round pick or a high
third round pick. Where maybe teams just generally speaking as

(31:29):
a principle, or like, look, we can get running backs
later in the draft, free agency. There's a variety of
ways to get a got to play that position without
having to spend high end draft capital to get him. Well,
then I think what you need to do and I
say this honestly, and this is what teams do you
need to evaluate? Why good running teams are good running teams?

(31:52):
Are they good running teams because they have it back?
In other words, could anybody do what Derrick Henry does?
I think the argument would probably be in that case, no,
wouldn't you say that Derrick Henry is probably a different
cat than most um? Could anybody run for the forty niners?
The argument would be seemingly yes, you could put a

(32:12):
lot of backs back there. Why is that the case?
You would have to do a deep dive into the
structure and concepts and approach of that offense to figure
that out because you know, look, a lot of teams
run the same concepts, Bob, There's not a thousand run
game concepts. As you know. It's how you get to

(32:34):
the run game, how you teach it, how you coach it,
how you deploy it. So a team like the Niners,
if you feel that running backs, if you decide, as
a general rule, well I'm not taking a running back
in the first two rounds. But yet you know at
some point you're gonna have to run the ball because
every team has to run the ball somewhere along the line.

(32:55):
Then you better have a way of running the ball.
So you have to know how you can do that effectively.
It does it become a function of oh line, does
to become a function of scheme, does to become a
function of back? You have to have an answer for
that before you do just what you said, before you
decide that either we are or we're not looking at

(33:16):
a running back as a higher level draft choice. See.
We hope people get, if nothing else out of this podcast,
the realization that that is the conversation that's going on
in a draft room. That's the conversation that a general
manager is having with the scouting department. Not hey guys,
as if it's fantasy football, let's wrap three hundred players
and just pick them off of a list. Right Like,

(33:38):
there is a total philosophical conversation happening behind closed doors
about how do we want to put our team together?
What kind of a team do we have, what is
our offensive system, what are our quarterback strengths, what kind
of an offensive line do we have, How does a
running back fit into all of that? And how much
money do we have to spend? Right Like, we go

(34:00):
out and spend money on the free agent market and
get one as opposed to having to draft one. You
know this, People see the mock drafts and they see,
you know, Breeze Hall's name up there, and your team
might need a quarterback with the what a thirty four pick,
and they don't take them, and people kind of throw
their arms up like, oh my god, we passed on
such a talented player. Well wait a minute, you know

(34:21):
that's not the conversation that's happening behind closed doors with
your team. They're not just sitting there going Bruce Hall
is good. People think he's the thirty fourth best player.
We've got the thirty four pick, let's take him. Right.
It's a much deeper philosophical conversation happening with all positions,
not just running back when you're gonna draft a player, right, No,

(34:41):
you're exactly right. And and these are the conversations that
are had, and they have to be had because ultimately,
I come back to to the point that I've made
a few times. Every team has to run the ball
somewhere along the line. That's a given. The question is
how when look bottom line, every team would like a

(35:03):
a higher rated runner than a lesser rated runner. That's
why you draft, That's why teams do boards. Is if
Breese Hall is rated higher, then let's say Snoop Connor
from All Miss we didn't talk about him, but he's
going to be rated higher on people's draft boards. So
would you rather have Breese Hall? Yes, but you're not
looking at those two players in a vacuum, right, yep.

(35:25):
And it is a fascinating, you know way, I think
hopefully for people to understand how the draft boards are
actually put together by the guys that make the picks.
It's totally different than maybe what you're reading you know,
on websites or mock drafts um when teams you know,
kind of or when when you know, the mock draft
guys come up with their own boards. And coming up
on Thursday, we've got a coach who has spent over

(35:47):
twenty years at the NFL and college level evaluating teams
and players. Rich Ganzarella, the current offensive coordinator for Kentucky,
will tell us what to look for and how things
have changed jumping from college football to the nf FELL,
particularly for quarterbacks because obviously that's the world he lives in.
He was the quarterbacks coach for the forty Niners, now

(36:07):
the offensive coordinator for Kentucky. He's got a pretty good
one with the Wildcats. We will touch on that with
Rich coming up on Thursday as well. Hope to have
you again on Thursday when our next episode drops. Thank
you for being a part of Tape Heads Draft Season.
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